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House for Rent in Piriapolis (2 of 2)

Posted by urufish on December 20, 2007


Summer’s is here and our friend Cristina asked us to post her 2nd house for rent on this site.  Here it is in pictures.  It’s pretty, clean and closer to San Antonio than the other house, which is closer to the bus terminal. 

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‘Tis the season to be Renty

Posted by urufish on November 23, 2007

With so many of our friends either renting out their places or renting someone else’s place, we got caught up in the moment. 

This year, (fanfare) for the first time ever, we are going to make our mountain top home avaiable for rent.  We plan to be there some weekends, but pressing committments in the city prevent us from being there during the week.  If you’re interested in a full week, we may be able to arrange that too. 

If you are interested, you’ll find more information here https://urufish.wordpress.com/2007/11/05/another-renovation-piriapolis/

We’ll be there this Sunday (if it doesn’t rain), and bring back some current photos.

Details:  This is a modern, 3 bedroom, 2 bathroom summer house.  Sleeps 6 comfortably.   Huge terrace in the front overlooking the ocean, all the beaches from San Antonio to Playa Hermosa and Pan d’Azucar.  Inground zero horizon swimming pool ideal for children… 1.2m deep.   Large barbecue (Parilla) in the back.. seating for 8.   Air conditioned living room.  Ceiling fans in the bedrooms.  Washing machine.  Clothesline.   Remote control gates and garage. 

Amenities:   A short walk through the backyard takes you to the upper station of the chairlift.  You can take it up and down to the port/beach.  Another 50m takes you to the tourist area atop San Antonio.  It has a nice restaurant, where you can use the big swimming pool, and eat breakfast, lunch or dinner.  There are several convenience stores carrying all the basics including ice cream. 

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San Antonio (Piriapolis) – a recent history

Posted by urufish on May 20, 2007


My wife was born in Uruguay; Rocha to be exact.  She lived in Montevideo in her teens and her summer jobs were in Piriapolis, working in a jewelery store on the Rambla.  She told me stories of big storms that brought the ocean into the store and they had to push it out with giant squeegees.  She loved the beach.  She emigrated to Canada in the 60’s.  We met in the 80’s.  Our first vacation together was, of course, to Uruguay.  While driving back from PDE, we drove to the top of San Antonio and on the way down, noticed that the house at the top was for sale and after a brief discussion, decided to buy it.   This is the view (now) from the front of the house. 


The big mountain in the background is Pan d’Azucar.  If you look closely, you can see the cross on the top.   Looks small doesn’t it?  It’s not.  You can climb the mountain to the top and then climb up into the cross and sit on either of the sides and look out.  I called my wife on the cell phone at home and asked here to wave at us the first time I went up there 🙂  

To the left in the background is a big building.  That’s Hotel Argentino.  Some days the clouds hang low and PDA looks like it’s been smoke ringed.   The pylon you see in the foreground, left is one of two that are close to our house.  That one goes bumpety bump when a chair passes.  The one beside our house, out of range of the picture, squeaks sometimes.  When it does, we yell to the guys behind our house to come and grease it.  They come right over.  We have a deal.  We supply them with water from our tank behind the house and the Fishers and their guests ride the chairlift for free.  You can see the chairlift in the picture below.  The end of the lift is just to the left of our backyard. 


The following is a (hopefully) brief summary of interesting events on San Antonio over the last 20 years…

Fauna:  When we first moved in, there was a lot more natural wildlife than there is today.  Blame modern civilization for that, but it’s the same everyone on the planet.  There were more deer, groundhogs, lizards and tarantulas.  We would drive up the mountain at night and almost always catch a deer in our headlights.  They’re very small, but adorable.  For the past few years, we hardly see them at all.  Lizards were plentiful until around 5 years ago.  For the past 2 years, I haven’t seen any.  When they’re young, they are beautiful.  Their skin is irridescent and they have long tails.  Older lizards often have no tails.  If the winter was hard, they’d eat them for food.  I guess they didn’t grow back because we saw lots of older lizards with literally no tails. 

We had a family that lived on our property, under a rock.  We used to poke a hole in the end off an egg and put it on the front lawn.  Then we’d sit back on the terrace and wait for them to show up.  They’d suck the inside of the egg out with their tongues.  Once I tried to give one some meat.  As I got closer, instead of backing away, he lunged at me.  I dropped the meat and took off.  That was funny.  We named our favourite lizzard Guancho.  

Sadly, tourists to the mountain weren’t so kind to the lizards.  Many people walk up the mountain.  Several times we saw teenagers with lizards by the tails, swing them around and in one case, throw it on a rock.   I think some drivers tried to run them over for fun too.   If you think they were mean to the lizards, they were worse to the tarantulas.  Most people are afraid of Tarantulas (at least all the Canadians I know are).  So was I until we started living around them.  It’s like all things in life.  When you learn what something (or someone) really is, you can appreciate the good things and in most cases, they’ll more than compensate for the bad things.  That’s true with Tarantulas.  They have one very valuable job to do as co-inhabitants of the property.  At night, they hang out around the door sills and eat the insects and bugs that are drawn to the light BEFORE they get into the house.  Of course, they’re eating small bugs and insects all night light all over the property, which keeps the crawly population down that otherwise might decide to live in (instead of outside) our house. 

Tarantulas are not aggressive unless you corner them.  Many times, we’ve prodded them with branches (playfully) and it takes a lot to get them mad.  But when they get mad, they can be real mean.  They rear up on their back legs and one time I am positive I saw venom dripping from their fangs.  Yes, they do have fangs.  IMHO, the bite (I’ve never been bit nor has any of our family or visitors), must hurt like hell.  The venom isn’t really poisonous.  I hear it gives you a nasty swelling though.  We’ve seen Tarantulas fight on our property.  One always dies.  The venom is fatal to each other… that’s for sure. 

People love to run over Tarantulas with their cars.  I’ve seen people intentionally do that on the mountain.  My wife says they have bones and some sick people like to hear them crack.  One day, right in front of our house, a car with younger people was trying to run over a Tarantula crossing from our property.  She ran out to the street with a broom and stopped while shooing the Tarantula off the street.  Then she gave the driver a stern lecture.  I told her we should put a sign “Tarantula Crossing” in front of the house.  The few times they have come into the house (they’ll do that when you leave the doors open later in the afternoon), we carefully remove them and transport them to the back yard.  You can just put a glass over them (big glass of course ) and slide a piece of cardboard under it and move them that way.  They’re usually pretty docile. 

One more note about Tarantulas.  If you have them on the mountain, you dont have snakes….  That’s what my wife tells me.  PDZ doesn’t have Tarantulas.  It does have poisonous snakes.  Poisonous snakes are above Tarantulas on the food chain and they tell me they’re very efficient.  Dont worry.  They’re not terribly lethal and there was (is) an anti-venom place somewhere around the bottom of the mountain… probably where the zoo is (was).   Whe I used to climb PDZ, I always watched where I put my hands :).  And if I had to really something on the mountain, it wouldn’t be any of those.  It would be those caterpillars with some kind of wicked neurotoxin in their fur which is barbed.  My wife brushed up against one years ago and we had to rush her to the doctor for a shot of what I am certain was demerol… which became a few shots over a period of 2 days. 

Flora:  My wife’s more of a flora person than I am.  I love to look at flowers and plants, but I dont know much about them.  She isn’t contributing much to this article because she’s busy elsewhere, so all I can tell you is that there are some spectacular palms on the mountain, hiding away in deserted parts.  Related to flora is something that I do know a bit about.  The fact that every once in a while, during a dry period, there is a danger of fire.  About once every 20-25 years, there is a major fire on San Antonio.  When I say major, I mean it covers a large area. 

When we moved there in the 80’s, there was only 3 properties above the first chairlift crossing.  That’s where the fire is most dangerous.  2 houses of concrete and a solid rock cave.  Not much to worry about.  When the last big fire happened, it came up the mountain in the area of the chairlift but stopped just across the street from our house.  We have never built or put anything on the house that will burn.  We also built a solid rock fence all around the property.  One of the reasons for our pool is in case of the fire jumps the street, we’ve got a lot of water and a big pump handy.  I worry when I see houses with straw roofs being built.  Sooner or later, we’ll get a couple of years of hot dry weather and some kids playing with matches are going to set off another big one.  Houses with a lot of outside wood or straw roofs are going to be in big trouble.  Add to that the fact that almost no one in Uruguay buys fire insurance and it’s a potent mix. 

Water…  Drinking water is supplied to the residents of the mountain via a humungous tank on the top which feeds into a smaller tank about half way down the mountain on the back side.   Water is delivered to residents via a 5″ black, plastic pipe which rests in the ditch beside the road.  Our house is unique in two ways.  We have an ‘official’ direct connection to the big tank and an unofficial ’T’ from the main pipe.  The official connection was just thrown on the ground when the house was built… the same time the tank was built.  The 2nd connection is courtesy of the original ‘tank’ guy who laid the big new pipe years ago.  

The ‘tank’ guy’s name was William.  He was a character.  We met him the first day we lived there.  Our toilet wouldn’t work and he was the ‘official’ mountain plumber.  His job was to pump the water into the tank at the top… which he usually did, but sometimes didn’t.  On those days, we relied on our rooftop tank and later on, our pool.  The big house, just below ours has a ‘humungous’ cistern beneath the pool.  They lived there in the early days too :).  Years later, Uragua took over water for the mountain and little changed.  But then OSE took it back and installed a new pump and I swear the pressure is higher now than back in Toronto.  So high that it blew out all the pipes in our main bathroom the first year it went online and we had to rebuild it 🙂 

William:  He’s the guy mentioned above….  He always looked drunk in the afternoon.  We used to think he drank too much wine at lunch, but he had a medical condition that when he ate food, he would literally pass out…  We used to joke about his BM’r.  He drove a 3 wheel BMW.  It didn’t have a starting motor.  He would park it on the mountain so he could start it with gravity.  

We hired him to do our first addition.  He didn’t know anything about building (he said he did).  He spent the entire budget on the foundation.  Instead of using mostly of rocks with cement binder for the foundation, he just poured $10K worth of cement onto the granite.  At least our bedroom is in no danger of slipping off the rocks–EVER.  He passed away from brain cancer several years ago.  We miss him.

Senator Libieri (and the president of Argentina):  The big house with the tennis courts and swimming and separate guest house just before the chair lift was Senator Libieri’s (Argentina).  His wife graciously invited us over shortly after we moved in.  She told us her house and our house were the same originally.  They were built by Don Piria’s children (or grandchildren–my Spanish was (and still is) pretty bad).  They changed theirs substantially and ours was the same as it was when it was built.  We told her we were going to build an addition and she thought that was wonderful.  They finally had a neighbour who was going to do something with the house. 

All of you who come to the mountain and live on the mountain owe a debt of gratitude to the Senator.  He singlehandedly got the municipality to repair the road (you should have seen it before) and add lights.  There we no lights on the road back then.  Driving up at night was quite an experience.  When Carlos Menem was president, he visited the senator a few times.  We knew because big men with sunglasses stood near the hotel San Antonio checking out cars that went up the hill.  One day he jogged by our house and waved at us.   Big difference between that and when President Bush roared by our condo on the Rambla this year 🙂  When the president of Argentina from a few years ago fled Buenos Aires to (guess where) PDE, his helicopter flew right around San Antonio.  We see famous people up here. 

Neighbours:  The Senator and the Fishers (that’s us) were pretty much the only inhabitants of the mountain (past the chairlift).    Since the senator and his wife stopped coming, wild dogs have taken to living in front of the property, menacing people who walk by.   Several months ago, one of our friends was bit.   There was someone who made a house out of a cave back before we bought, but we never got to meet them.  It was William (see above) who convinced a happy (and drunk) German tourist to purchase that cave and make a bar out of it.  It lasted one summer.  His brother used to come and sing there on the weekend.  You know what the cave is now?  It’s the garage below the two white, modern houses just finished this year.  A few years after that, a couple of condominiums were attempted but they didn’t make it.  It wasn’t until recently that anything was built beyond the chairlift.  Now it’s like a boom.  Who knows.  Maybe some day we will look like Punta Ballena!!

Newer Neighbours:  I think the oldest, newer neighbour is a tossup between the architects house, the 2 story glass cube near the first lookout and the house next to us on the other side of the chairlift.  Whenever we pass her house, we wonder how hot it must be in the afternoon.   Shortly after she finished her house, there was an awful wind storm and several of her windows were blown out.  Our first closest neighbour’s house was never finished.  Sometime during the construction, there was a death in the family and they never moved in.  A few years ago, a young couple with children showed up and started living there.  We’re not sure if they’re renting, family of the owners or squatters.  The house still isn’t finished.  The next house built was a small, brown straw roof structure a few lots south of us.  Turns out, it was built by a guy my wife used to go to school with.  Uruguay is a small place.  Shortly afterwards, something happened in his life and the house went to public auction.  We never saw the new owners but this year, it was up for sale and a few months ago, we passed a moving truck empying the place and the for sale sign is down.  Either it was sold or not and the moving truck was either the owners or thieves making off with the contents.  A few months ago, the new owner tore it down.  Our friends in the real estate business told us the building code violations were so severe, the house had to be ripped down. 

Our newest neighbour built a very nice house across the road and up from us a couple of lots, on the beach side of the road.  We didn’t spend much time at the house this year so we didn’t see much of them.  But we met up on New Years’ eve.  We were both shooting fireworks off on the street at midnight.  We dont count the CTI-Movil tower as a neighbour but it’s there, a few lots away. 

Bike race… Runathons…  A couple of times a year, they close off the mountain for the bicycle and running races.  Sometimes, we weren’t told in advance and had to stay with friends in town until the road was opened.  That’s how I learned Piriapolis had a radio station.  The truck drove by the house. 

Radar, TV, Radio, Telephone and Cell towers:  The porcupine atop the mountain years ago had real work to do.  The radar worked.  We knew because we’d hear the rotors going all hours of the day.  When the power would fail, the generators would come on and shake the house.  The main TV relay for the country used to sit atop San Antonio.  One or more of the radio stations had repeaters up there too.  Even Dedicado had their main repeater there for a while.  Now it’s on Pan d’Azucar.  Today, it’s mostly cell towers…  A couple of years ago, Telmex (CTI) put up a new tower just below the top in record time.  Why so fast?  It sits directly in front of our neighbour’s lot who bought it just before the tower went up.  He was just a little angry.  Who owned it before?  Our pharmacist.  Now there’s a lucky guy.  Try to sell that lot now.  No way. 

Power:  The electriicty for all of us beyond the chairlift (subject to verification) comes up the back side of the mountain to a big transformer on the top and it’s fed down from there, like the water.  Years ago, we’d lose power all the time.  We’d see UTE zipping by and we knew we’d have power back in a half hour.  I think they modernized their equpment because it rarely goes out now.  Not even in a lightning storm.

Lighting:  Unless you live at the top, you cant fully enjoy the awesome power of lightning.  I believe I’ve been knocked out of bed twice in the past 20 years.  I suspect my wife beats me but she doesn’t talk about it.  The lightning usually strikes the Antel tower.   It’s a granite mountain so the electricity doesn’t go directly into the ground, it spreads out.  If it’s raining when it strikes (usually is), it will travel along the water atop the road giving off an outstanding blue hue.  Then you smell the ozone.  Hmmmmm… The smell of fresh ozone in the morning.  It’s pretty much harmless.. because we unplug everything when there’s a lightning storm.. even if it’s at 3am..  

Telephone:  Not sure now but before, all telephone lines came out of the window on the Antel tower.  If you go up there, you’ll see them.  We can trace ours and Libieri’s from the tower, right to our house.  When there’s a bad storm, sometimes those lines will be ripped off.  It takes Antel a few days to repair them.  Next time you drive up, look to see if there are telephone lines going up past the chairlift, or are they coming down.   Our line has been out for the past 3 months. 

Chairlift:  Our house is right next to the last pylon before you get off (or get on).  When we moved in, the chairlift’s management was pretty chaotic.  Sometimes it worked, sometimes it didn’t.  I think there was a couple of years it never ran at all.  This year was interesting.  The municiaplity wouldn’t let them start at the beginning of the season because of maintenance issues.  By the time they got it fixed, season was over.  It was running last time we were there, but not with the crowds we saw last year. 

Magic carpet ride:  There used to be a gigantic slide on the lower part of the mountain near the port.  The surface was slippery enough so you could put a carpet under your butt and slide down quickly enough to get a charge out of it.  It was undulating, maybe 5 or 6 waves, before you hit the bottom.  My wife says it worked in the 60’s and maybe even into the 70’s.  But by the time I came, it was deserted.  There was a bad accident and it shut down.  It’s very close to where Campiglia built the, new, big condo project.  If you look up from the port, you see it still.   

Buquebus:  If you look at the old pictures of Piria, you’ll note two very distinct and kul things.  First, they had ships coming into Piria from Buenos Aires and there was a small railroad that led from the port to the hotel and yes, people wore striped, wool bathing suits.  Well, this must have been at the back of the municipality’s mind when it approved the new port, the one you see now.  In the 80’s, the port was pretty much a dump.  Used only by fishing boats and the odd boater from PDE who heard that Piria was the #2 resort and wanted a place to go for the afternoon. 

The new port was built recently.  If you drive out towards PDE the back way, look to your left as you pass the mountain and you’ll see the quarry they used to build the breakwall with.  The purpose of the new port was primarily to host the Buquebus service.  At it’s peak, we used to get two ferries a day.  Morning and evening.  Now we get none.  Why?  Politics.  The story told in town is that the owners of Buquebus got into an argument with IMM (Maldonado) over fees and they pulled out.  I think this will be the 3rd or 4th year it’s closed.  I now hear (Dec 2007), they’re talking about bringing back the service..   That would be FANTASTIC. 

Buquebus had a bit of bad luck in Piriapolis.  The first season the terminal was open, we had a bad wind storm which blew out the glass in the roof of the terminal.  We used to like to watch the ferries come in.  From our terrace, friends would come over and we’d watch it appear on the horizon and as it got closer, it would come off plane and settle down into the water.  The sound it made was awesome… Like a 747.  We also miss not being able to take the boat from BA literally to our front door.  We could get off the Buqeubus and take the chairlift home.  I guess we have to wait until something changes. 

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